A key moderate Democrat says that testimony from Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, about President Trump’s dealings with officials in that country was “beyond alarming” but that House leaders conducting the impeachment inquiry “should be transitioning sooner rather than later to public hearings.”
“What I’m saying is — as soon as possible ... OK?” said Rep. Max Rose, D-N.Y., about when House Democrats need to begin public hearings in the impeachment inquiry. “I don’t know how you could get much more out of me than that.”
Rose is among a small band of centrist House Democrats whose views are thought by many to be key to the fate of the impeachment inquiry. A 32-year-old veteran of the war in Afghanistan, Rose last year knocked off a Republican incumbent in a conservative, Trump-friendly district that encompasses the GOP stronghold of Staten Island. He is precisely the sort of precarious freshman who Speaker Nancy Pelosi had been trying to protect for much of the year by resisting calls for impeachment.
“There was a point in time, not very long ago, I said, ‘Look, with the facts that we have today, I do not think impeachment is the correct road to go on,’” Rose said in an interview for the Yahoo News “Skullduggery” podcast. “But that doesn’t mean that when new facts present themselves that we shouldn’t consider an impeachment inquiry.”
Rose is now trying to walk a fine line: He made waves recently by announcing his support for the inquiry, but won’t commit to actually voting for impeachment itself. Still, he was struck by Taylor’s powerful testimony this week that an “irregular” foreign policy driven by President Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani led the president to demand that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky “go to a microphone” and publicly announce investigations of former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter, as well as one into supposed Ukrainian interference in the 2016 election, as a condition for the reinstatement of $391 million in U.S. military aid.
But Rose says he wants to reserve judgment on whether to vote in favor of impeaching Trump. “We are not jumping to any conclusions,” he said. “This is an investigation. This is an inquiry and we are looking to rise above politics.”
While Rose wants the hearings to begin a public phase very soon — precisely the argument being used by GOP critics of the investigation — he still believes his Republican colleagues are playing politics with the issue.
“We could have selected ... Mother Teresa to lead this inquiry and I guarantee you [House Republicans] would still be parroting the same exact talking points,” Rose said. “This is about deflection. This is about trying to distract the American people. So they distrust the process to the point that they do not even believe in facts. ... They are choosing to take the route that in my book is not patriotic and that is absolutely wrong.”
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